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Measuring and treating Chemo Brain

‘Chemo Brain’ After Breast Can­cer Backed by Study (US News):

Breast can­cer patients treated with chemother­apy are at risk for mild men­tal deficits known col­lec­tively as “chemo brain,” a new study finds. Researchers at the Mof­fitt Can­cer Cen­ter in Tampa, Fla., reviewed exist­ing research on brain func­tion (“cog­ni­tive” func­tion­ing) in breast can­cer patients who received stan­dard doses of chemother­apy for at least six months…The analy­sis revealed that, on aver­age, these patients had mild impair­ments in ver­bal abil­i­ties (such as dif­fi­culty choos­ing words) and visual-spatial abil­i­ties (such as get­ting lost more easily).”

Now the good news: cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions to accel­er­ate recov­ery are becom­ing avail­able. See study: Advanced cog­ni­tive train­ing for breast can­cer sur­vivors: a ran­dom­ized con­trolled trial (Breast can­cer research and treatment)

  • Abstract: The pur­pose of this study was to eval­u­ate the pre­lim­i­nary effi­cacy and satisfaction/acceptability of train­ing in mem­ory or speed of pro­cess­ing ver­sus wait-list con­trol for improv­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion in breast can­cer sur­vivors… Pri­mary out­comes were objec­tive neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests of mem­ory and speed of processing…The results show that domain-specific effects were seen for both inter­ven­tions: mem­ory train­ing improved mem­ory per­for­mance at 2-month follow-up; speed of pro­cess­ing train­ing improved pro­cess­ing speed post-intervention and 2-month follow-up. Trans­fer effects to non-trained domains were seen for speed of pro­cess­ing train­ing with improved mem­ory post-intervention and 2-month follow-up. Both inter­ven­tions were asso­ci­ated with improve­ments in per­ceived cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing, symp­tom dis­tress, and qual­ity of life. Rat­ings of satisfaction/acceptability were high for both interventions.…Speed of pro­cess­ing train­ing may have broader ben­e­fits in this clin­i­cal population.

An open ques­tion is, how will this and sim­i­lar inter­ven­tions be inte­grated in stan­dards of care, includ­ing reim­burse­ment? To Learn More:

Pic cour­tesy of Andrea Levy

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